Posted in about me, storytelling, vulnerability

Poking around in your head

Yesterday, I published a post that ended with a question asking about your experience. I’ve asked a similar question a few times.

This is the thing: I’m really curious about the answer.

I’d love to take every single reader out for coffee for a few hours and pick your brain about random things like yesterday’s post. (It’s not yesterday’s topic in particular…)

What’s funny is that without that context, if I actually was at coffee with some random person, I’d have no idea how to start that kind of conversation…or if it’s even too intimate to attempt.

I love poking around in people’s brains.

Some people don’t like their brains being poked around in. More than that, it seems that people think there’s nothing in their brains worth poking around in.

Yes there is, my friends. Yes, there is. You have lived this long. You’ve met people. You’ve done things. You’ve gone places. You’ve developed opinions. You’ve (probably) changed some of those opinions. You react to things in certain ways. You are definitely interesting.

I just need to figure out how to open up those kinds of conversations…

Posted in ebb & flow, gifts, hope, mindset, podcasts, storytelling, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Podcast quote: creativity (and so much more)

TED has started a new podcast series called TED Interviews, where Chris Anderson interviews people who have give TED talks about their talks, and they get more in depth.

I haven’t quite listened to all of them, but all that I’ve listened to have been captivating. (As of this writing, there are only six of them.)

I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, mostly known for writing Eat, Pray, Love. (I haven’t read it.)

First, they got into creativity. She talked a short bit about the history of creativity (who knew there was one?!) I loved the imagery in what she had to say:

“The way I describe it is the way I’ve empirically experienced it, which is broken down in my life to this notion: that ideas are living entities. They have consciousness. They don’t have matter. They can’t be seen, they can’t be felt, they can’t be proven, but they have will. And the way I picture it—and it’s sort of whimsical but I have also literally based my life on this—is the universe is sort of swirling with these ideas that wish to be created and they’re constantly looking for human collaborators because for some reason we have this oddly sensitive consciousness that can hear them and find them. And so the way I picture it is they sort of just roam around being like, ‘Are you my mother? Are you my mother? Are you my mother?’ And every single human who is struck by inspiration describes the experience exactly the same way … there’s this distraction where the idea sort of consumes you and in that consuming which can take months, weeks, years, the idea is interviewing you and asking you, ‘Do you wanna do this thing with me or not?’ And that’s the most important conversation that I think human beings can have, is that dialogue between your willingness to cooperate and show up and make something with this idea and manifest it and the idea’s desire to be made and the question of whether you are indeed the right partner.”

Whimsical was a solid word to describe the idea, but I love the imagery. Even more, though, I love the ownership of the work, and how the idea doesn’t just come and magically happen—it’s a partnership. “Your labor is the contribution to the miracle.” (She says that later.)

She talked more about that in other places in the podcast as well.

They also talked about curiosity vs. passion, enchantment vs. empiricism, fear, memes (not the pictures on the internet), secular magic, dark night of the soul, why to do the work if it’s likely to fail, and quite a bit about grieving.

It’s an hour long, and it’s well worth your hour. I listened to it twice, in addition to the bits I listened and paused so I could transcribe.

Posted in parenting, storytelling

A tale of two daddies

I am divorced and remarried. I have a seven-year-old from my first marriage. We share custody and co-parent well. (People who have watched the journey for the last five years have periodically popped in and commented on us doing a bang-up job at prioritizing The Boy’s needs.)

(Shout out also to both daddies for sharing the role/name/honor/responsibility/title of dad gracefully.)

It’s amusing when The Boy delights in having two dads. (Sometimes perhaps mistaken for being the child of a gay couple. So far, not mistaken for being the child of a polyamorous triad.)

But it’s also sometimes confusing when either he or I, in talking to each other, refer to “dad.” Because he calls both of them dad. I was hoping that would organically resolve, that he would just gravitate towards a slightly different name for one of them.

It hadn’t happened yet.

His friend was unhappy with the ambiguity and took it upon herself to resolve it.

So now, we have The Tall Daddy (his bio dad, who is well over six feet tall), and The Climbing Daddy (my husband, who is responsible for us all getting into rock climbing, including the friend).

 

 

Posted in meandering, storytelling

Conversations with homeless

In the span of a few days, I had conversations with two homeless people. (Well, I had a conversation and I overheard a conversation.)

I was waiting on the platform for the train. A woman who looked homeless decided to run across the street to get some water before the train came.

A man standing nearby started talking. He said he felt bad for her, that in addition to her homelessness, she had addiction issues, and that makes everything harder. And she’s a she, which makes everything harder.

He talked about how he’s homeless, and the steps he’s been taking to get himself housed. If things keep going the way they are, in another couple of weeks, he should be able to get a place to live. He was happy with what he’d been able to accomplish so far. He shared an idea he had that would legitimately make him some decent money … if he could save enough money to make the initial investment in the idea.

Later on the train, there were two people talking—a  man and a woman—though the man really more was giving prompts than participating. They were standing on opposite sides of a not-crowded train. I can’t call it eavesdropping, because I couldn’t not hear them.

While most of the conversation was about an actress and was moderately tedious to listen to, at one point she was talking about her living situation. She said she had been homeless off and on for the past ten years, and that she’s been in her current apartment for a year. She talked about how nice it was to have space where she could just lock the door and be alone.

I have celebrated anniversaries of many, many things, but “having a place to live for a year” has never been on the list. I take that for granted. Even in my barely-getting-by days, I never questioned whether I would have a place to live. Privilege.

I had also never thought about the “space to be alone” aspect of homelessness. (Honestly, I haven’t thought about most of the logistics of homelessness.)

I have, for a long time, wanted to talk to homeless people and hear their story. See what they have to say. But it doesn’t feel safe. I mean, I’m sure that most of the people who look approachable are approachable. But those aren’t good enough odds for me right now. whether that’s just a knee-jerk purse-clutch reaction or is legit, I don’t know.

And if I was them and someone just wanted to hear my story out of curiosity, I’m not sure I’d want to tell it.

So I was grateful for these two interactions to give me a little bit of insight.

Posted in about me, storytelling, vulnerability

It’s my turn [deep breath]

“If you don’t do this, I’m going to tell your parents all the bad things you do when I’m here.” There weren’t really any bad things, but we were allowed to bend the rules when the babysitter was there, and as it was, I was the scape goat for the family’s ills…

So in 5th grade, I gave my first blowjob to our next door neighbor. I told no one. Who would I tell?

Years later, I realized what that white creamy stuff was. (He had come into a tissue.)

Years after that, I told my family. In a letter. My sister emailed and “screamed” at me. Why would I tell them that? I upset Mom and they have to deal with the fallout. (I was not living locally, which was true once I graduated college.) You’re being selfish. “He told me the same thing and I just said no.”

It’s your fault.

My freshman year of college, as a no-sex-until-marriage Catholic girl, I dated a guy who—as I learned much later—had the goal of breaking people of their Christianity. (He was Jewish.) Step one was sex, regardless of my clear boundaries that I didn’t want to have sex.

When I talked/cried about it later, he said, “You make it sound like I raped you.” But being the good don’t-make-waves girl that I was, I didn’t push that line. But yeah, that’s what you did.

I remember details of sex with him only two other times. Once, I was exhausted and told him no, I needed to sleep. He didn’t take no for an answer and then was irate that I fell asleep while he fucked me.

And the last time, he refused to take his shirt off. When I finally insisted, he was covered in hickies from the other woman he was sleeping with. He decided at that moment that she was better. They eventually got married and divorced.

We worked together at the campus newspaper. Everyone there (or everyone there who was vocal) thought I was insane for being so upset. I got notes in my mailbox (at the paper) saying “You’re a psycho.”

You see, we had gotten engaged, because if you can’t save sex for marriage, then you can at least marry the person you have sex with. (Another tangent for another day.)

From my vantage point now, marrying your rapist is a bad plan. At the time, it didn’t seem like a bad plan. Our breakup had a lot wrapped up in it.

A lot of people know parts of this story—at the very least that I was raped by my first college boyfriend. Very, very few know the story of what actually happened that night.

When I told the story to my therapist, the first words out of his mouth were, “How could you?” I don’t tell that story any more.

Those were the big ones.

They don’t include the teacher I had in 7th grade who used to hold my left hand while I sat and did writing work with my right.

Or the 7th grade boy who pinned me to a table backstage when I was in 8th grade.

Or the high school teacher who, when on a trip post-graduating (we happened to be chaperoning different schools on the same trip), interpreted me going to his room to hang out as me going to his room for sex. (He kissed me, and I stopped it right there, and he gave me all the reasons I was “sending mixed messages.”)

Or the guy who, upon my moving across the country, said he had some leads for places I could play my trombone (I had no contacts in the new location), met up with me for lunch without any leads—he just wanted to go out with me.

Or the guy in the band I played in who would tell me I was too pretty to play the trombone, then make a point of staring at my boobs and reading my T-shirt out loud.

(My boobs are not much to look at. Even if they were, it’s not acceptable, but there’s not even the “they were distracting” defense. B-cup boobs in a loose-fitting crew-neck T-shirt?)

(And there—I did it. Defended myself by explaining what I was wearing. IT DOESN’T MATTER. I’m leaving that there, instead of editing it out.)

I have spent a lot of my life being grateful that I was not “hot” growing up. By how many times would this be magnified?

All men? No. I’ve dated lots of boys (when I was young) and men who have been perfectly respectful. I’ve befriended boys and men and have not felt unsafe or uncomfortable with them.

Does that mean that they’ve never been the cause of someone else’s #metoo? Nope. I would be sad—in some cases, completely heartbroken—to learn that they carry that transgression.

This is the first time that I’ve seen men really speaking out, saying, “I believe you” publicly. Explaining why women don’t report. Arguing on my side. Explaining to other men. Sometimes explaining to women. (More on that in a moment.) It’s made me teary.

But there are also men I know who are very vocally feminist who have told stories that were “funny” that I’m reasonably sure the woman on the other end remembers differently.

Next, to all of the women who are putting down women right now: you’re hurt. Something happened to you that still hurts, and when things like this come up (as they seem to on a constant basis lately), you can’t have empathy for her, because it hurts too much. Instead, you put her down.

Work through your pain. Start to heal it, so you don’t feel like you have to hurt others to protect yourself.

If you made it this far, let me say thank you. For reading. For letting me share my thoughts, my experience, my life with you. A lot of people already know some or all of these stories, but putting it here and hitting “publish” is terrifying. I see other brave women standing up and owning their stories, not just to the people they trust, but to everyone. I see the backlash.

It’s my turn.

Posted in meandering, storytelling, vulnerability

Speaking plainly is not necessarily dismissive

Sometimes, I talk about significant things as if they’re just another thing.

For example, I’m divorced and re-married. I plainly talk about things in my first marriage, about things in my divorce, about things as they are now.

It doesn’t mean that none of it is significant, or that it didn’t matter, or that it was easy, or that I don’t feel feelings about it.

Simply this: it’s part of my story. I own it.

Some of my story, I’ll talk about with most people (or I’ll write about it). Some of it, you’ll need a higher security clearance before I get that vulnerable with you.

But it happened. Lots of amazing things have happened. Lots of horrible things have happened. Lots of mundane things have happened.

Some have been my fault (for better or for worse).

Some have been dumb luck (for better or for worse).

Some have been someone else’s fault (for better or for worse).

Most have been (D) all of the above.

Regardless of how any person or event or outcome came into my life, it’s part of my story.

So. Don’t interpret casual conversation to mean that the topic is light. It’s just part of me.